You can't say Frankie Laine did not have the training to do a Gospel album, after all he had been an altar boy at his local Parish in Chicago and in early January 1953 recorded his smash hit "I Believe" with all it's Gospel connontations and around that same time all this was happening for Frankie a new vocal group had started called The Four Lads, who Mitch Miller, Frankie Laine's friend as well as being the main man at Columbia records had seen at a club and decided to use them with the vocalist Johnny Ray on his hits, "Cry" and "The Little White Cloud That Cried" in 1953 and they recorded them for nothing but not really, as they did score a one year contract for their effort from Mitch. The Four Lads comprised of Connie Cordarini (bass), Bernie Toorish (tenor), Jimmy Arnold (lead ) and Frank Busseri (baritone) and spirituals, folk and pop were all included in their repertoire of songs but at this time we are still very early days in their careers as they would still be performing and recording into the 1970's. "Frankie Laine And The Four Lads" was recorded over three sessions with the first two in June 1954 on the 26th and 27th with another session recorded on October the 27th in 1955. One interesting point is Albert Lerner is on piano for all the sessions but the line-up does change quite a bit for the last one with Edwin LeMar "Buddy" Cole replaced by Richard Hyman on organ and Vincent Terri on guitar is replaced by none other than the old twanger Al Caiola but Al would have been quite early in his career at this point with both the bass player and drummer replaced as well in that last session with this personnel comprising a quintet in number for the band which gives the vocals absolute front and centre as any good spiritual music should contain. Yes, it was back to basics for the albums construction which is one of the joys within, due to this small line-up as anything more would simply have swamped the album draining all that freshness which all the vocalists bring to every song with Old Leather Lungs himself, superbly right out front.
There is a real mix of tempos used throughout the album with usually a fairly up-tempo number followed by the slower one which brings great continual variety to the album with many being on the joyous side with "Juba-Juba-Jubalee" with it's organ introduction and Frankie Laine singing the title in repitition and before you know it we are in full gospel mode with The Four Lads singing right in between Frankie on this joyous up-tempo number. The organ is used as the main section within the bands music throughout putting us right into the church pew and the following number being a slow spiritual with a spoken prayer from Frankie within and here one hears why he was named leather lungs with the notes that Frankie hits with his beautiful and powerful voice. You need to be on your feet and clapping along with "What Would I Do Without The Lord" followed by another of the those slow beautiful numbers with Frankie stretching his lungs in "Let Me Be Ready, Lord" concerning ones death and after you will be ready for that "chariot to take you to those heavenly lands" with this rendition from Frankie and The Four Lads. One of the standouts for me from that last session is "Didn't He Moan" with it's blues/gospel influence and it is simply superb. The album's songs on the flip that deserve a mention are "Rain, Rain, Rain" which was the albums single and hit and listen to Frankie and those Lads swap the vocals around throughout the tune with both taking lead and singing backing in turns. "God's Gonna Take The Saints To Heaven" has us in a lifeboat with the saints, all the way to heaven, followed by the swing and joy of "Wa-Hoo". The next, "Aint It A Pity And A Shame" is one of it's own within the album with The Four Lads singing just halo primarily with electrifying effect right behind Frankie Laine's lead vocal. The album closes with "I Heard The Angels Singing" where one should stand, clap and sing along with this great romper of a spiritual.
Fabulous distinct album within Frankie Laine's discography where he shows us that he can sing anything with anybody. Frankie Laine was a devout Catholic all his life and this religious influenced material was a joy for him to perform and one can hear that clearly within these songs all beautifully sung in conjunction with The Four Lads. Another note on Frankie's versatilatity is three days before that last session for this album in October 1955 he recorded another last album session for his classic "Jazz Spectacular" with Buck Clayton.